Bolivia v Venezuela: Dudamel wants to show respect
Rafael Dudamel has instructed his Venezuela side to respect Bolivia ahead of their Copa America clash. Dudamel oversaw a hard-fought draw against hosts Brazil last time out, meaning a win against Bolivia could be enough to see Venezuela through the quarter-finals.
Venezuela sit in third in Group A, two points behind Brazil and Peru - who also meet on Saturday - and could also progress as one of the two best third-placed teams. Bolivia, meanwhile, have lost both of their matches so far, going down 3-1 to Peru after a 3-0 defeat to Brazil in the tournament's opening match.
Eduardo Villegas' side have failed to win in nine matches since a 3-0 friendly victory over Myanmar in October. But Dudamel has urged Venezuela, who are yet to score in the tournament, to pay Bolivia the respect they deserve so they in turn earn the same from other sides.
"Respect is the key word that will lead us to continue climbing," Dudamel told a news conference. "To continue improving and earning respect. Who are we to look down at Bolivia?"
Bolivia's players reportedly asked to be paid wages they were promised for taking part in the Copa America, much to the chagrin of their football federation's president Cesar Salinas, who suggested players were more concerned with their earnings than representing their county.. "Annoying obviously, uncomfortable, but we'll leave it there and then we'll talk about it," answered defender Diego Bejarano.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Venezuela – Salomon Rondon
Rondon enjoyed a great season on loan at Newcastle United, but Venezuela's record goalscorer has been starved of chances in both matches so far. However, the forward should be relishing going up against a Bolivia side that has already conceded six goals in the competition.
Bolivia – Marcelo Martins
Bolivia's talisman opened his Copa account with a well-taken penalty to give his side the lead against Peru, but Martins will have to be on top form to open up Venezuela's stubborn defence.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- Venezuela have won only one of their last five clashes with Bolivia in all competitions, but it was in their last meeting.
- Their 5-0 win over Bolivia in their last meeting was their only game against La Verde under Rafael Dudamel.
- Bolivia have lost each of their last seven Copa America games, with an average of three goals conceded per game in this run.
- Venezuela have lost only one of their last six Copa America games, keeping four clean sheets in this run.
- Seven of Bolivia's last eight Copa America goals have come from set pieces.
- Rondon is the only member of the Venezuelan squad for the 2019 Copa America to have scored more than once in the competition.